Jerusalem’s history stretches back about 5,000 years, and the city has been sought after by many. About 2500 BC, the Canaanites inhabited the city. Then King David captured the city (c.1000 BC), he made Jerusalem the capital of his kingdom. Later, King Solomon built the first Temple to house the Ark of the Covenant. The Babylonian King, Nebuchadnezzar, led his army into Jerusalem and captured the city in 597 B.C.E.
He deported thousands of Jews and razed the city to the ground. Fifty years later (537 BC), CYRUS THE GREAT of Persia conquered Babylonia and permitted the Jews to return to Jerusalem and rebuild their Temple. Persia held the city until 333 BC, when Alexander the Great added Palestine to his empire. Alexander the Great introduced Greek culture and ideals – Hellenism which was forced on the Jewish population… The Jews rose up in 167 B.C.E. behind Mattathias and his five sons and fought for their liberation. Three years later, Jerusalem was recaptured from the Greeks by the Maccabees and the Temple purified, an event that gave birth to the holiday of Chanukah. The Roman Empire invaded Jerusalem in 63 BC. The Romans set up a local dynasty, the house of Herod, to rule most of Palestine. During the reign of the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, Jesus Christ was tried and executed in Jerusalem. A major Jewish revolt against the Romans led to the destruction of the Second Temple in AD 70. Again, Jews were banished from Jerusalem.
The city grew under Roman and Byzantine rule and developed as a center of Christian pilgrimage. The Church of the Holy Sepulcher and many other Christian shrines were erected during this period. Later the city was captured by the Muslims and apart for a short period during the Christian crusades stayed under Muslim rule until the rise of the Ottoman Empire in 1517. The British took control of Jerusalem in 1917 and it became part of the British mandate imposed on Palestine. In 1948 during Israel’s war of independence, Jerusalem was besieged by the Arab legions and when the fighting ended the city was divided between Israel (the western city) and Jordan (the eastern city and the old city). During the Six Day War in 1967 the Jordanians were pushed eastward past the Jordan River and the city was untied under Israeli rule.
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